The Therapy House by Julie Parsons won Crime Fiction Book of the Year at the Bord Gáis Energy Irish Book Awards 2017.
Set in Dun Laoghaire, it’s the story of two murders, one set in the present, one dating back many years. The crimes are linked through retired Garda Inspector Michael McLoughlin who discovers the body in one case and whose father was the victim in the other.
McLoughlin will be familiar to anyone who has read Parsons previously. He first appeared in her debut novel, Mary, Mary. In The Therapy House, McLoughlin has retired and is now working as a private investigator.
The novel opens strongly with a beautiful description of Judge John Hegarty who is getting ready to go to church. But Hegarty is about to be murdered. The question is by whom? And why?
Too many characters
When McLoughlin discovers Hegarty’s body, this story line takes off but it never really becomes a page turner, partly because so many characters are introduced that it is difficult to keep track of who’s who, particularly as not all of them move the story forward.
The second killing took place many years previously when Jim McLoughlin, also a Garda, was shot during a raid. No one was held to account for the killing but McLoughlin knows who did it and he knows where the killer now lives. The question is, what will he do about it.
As both story lines develop, it emerges that there are links between the two crimes. Ultimately, though, I found The Therapy House a frustrating read. Repeatedly, just as I becoming interested, a chapter would end only for new characters to appear in the next chapter. This lack of continuity became increasingly annoying as I got further into the novel. That said, there is a lot to think about and talk about in this novel which might make The Therapy House a good choice for book clubs, particularly those with an interest in Irish crime fiction.